Huawei AI: Computing in the Age of Intelligence

Huawei Technologies' Mike BAI (Image: Huawei)

Adopting an AI mindset to tackle existing and future problems

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6 April 2020 | 0

In association with Huawei

Emerging technologies are driving a new industrial revolution across the world and artificial intelligence (AI) has undoubtedly become one of the main forces that will release the potential of the fourth industrial revolution. After more than half a century of development, AI has taken great leaps forward and entered a new stage of growth. Advances in new theories and technologies, i.e., the Internet, big data, supercomputing, sensor networks and data science as well as strong economic and social demands and trends have made it possible for AI to be a legitimate part of any organisation’s automation strategy.

Adopting an AI mindset

By emphasising AI’s role as a general-purpose technology (GPT), Huawei’s goal is to call attention to how influential and valuable AI is to our collective future. As a GPT, AI will help us find more efficient solutions to problems we already know how to fix. It will also help us address problems that, to date, have remained unsolved. As a society, if we want to stay ahead, we need to adopt an AI mindset – using AI concepts and technologies to tackle both existing and future problems.

Our experience shows that AI can replace humans in certain tasks, and also automate cost reduction throughout production cycles. This is perhaps the most valuable characteristic of AI, and what sets it apart from run-of-the-mill informatisation, which cannot automatically reduce production costs. Building on this insight, Huawei has identified clear signs indicating that AI will change or disrupt a whole host of industries:

  • Intelligent transportation will make traffic way more efficient.
  • Autonomous driving and electric cars will bring dramatic changes to the automotive industry.
  • Personalised education will deliver efficiency gains for both teachers and students.
  • In healthcare, early prevention and precision treatment have the potential to increase life expectancy.
  • Precision drug trials will cut the cost and time of discovering new medicine.
  • With real-time translation across multiple languages, communication will be easier than ever before.
  • Telecom network operation and management will become more efficient.

When AI means safety

There are myriad possible application scenarios for AI, but its benefits are perhaps nowhere more tangible than in the mining industry. While the coal industry remains a pillar of economic development in many parts of the world, it is unequivocally dangerous for those on the frontlines. However, technology is helping to smarten up safety in coal production, with accidents declining for several years thanks to more stringent regulations that focuses on mechanisation, automation, and intelligent mining.

Powered by big data and AI, Huawei’s Mine Brain solution can boost safety in coal mines by optimising workplace and supervisory efficiency. It can replace humans in hazardous environments and take on tedious and repetitive tasks. For example, Mine Brain’s computer vision capabilities can monitor scraper conveyors, reducing the number of people needed and increasing efficiency.

Mine Brain’s computer vision capabilities can report unsafe behaviour to the onsite monitoring system, which can then issue warnings. The solution can also protect people by identifying changes in the state of workplace objects and environment. Computer vision can identify unsafe scenarios like people working in front of shearers or missing hydraulic support guard plates, and issue warnings through the broadcast system. The system can then generate software records, making these types of incidents part of future safety assessments.

Focusing on the functionality of Huawei’s AI solutions

The disruption caused by AI provides both challenges and opportunities. In order to enable our clients and partners to harness the power of the AI revolution, we will open up hardware like AI servers, accelerator cards, and modules, providing our partners with the components, tools and support they need to integrate AI computing into their own products and solutions. This means that our software will be open source, including server operating systems, databases, and AI development frameworks. This will help our partners develop better commercial software more easily, enable application development and portability.

To this end, Huawei offers a full-stack, all-scenario AI portfolio that includes chips, chip enablement, a training and inference framework as well as application enablement. This approach consists of four key layers, focused on the functionality our tech provides:

  • Ascend is the IP and chipset layer and the foundation of the full-stack solution. It aims to provide optimal performance at minimal cost for all scenarios.
  • The CANN (Compute Architecture for Neural Networks) layer sits above the chip layer. It offers a chip operator library and operator development toolkits. Aiming to provide optimal development efficiency and operator performance, it meets the requirements created by the booming growth in academic research and industry applications.
  • MindSpore is a unified training/inference framework designed to be design-friendly, operations-friendly, and adaptable to all scenarios.
  • The Application Enablement layer is a machine learning PaaS that provides full process services, hierarchical APIs, and pre-integrated solutions. It was designed to meet the unique needs of different developers and make AI adoption easier.

Huawei AI ecosystem programme boosts AI in Europe

With a wide range of initiatives, Huawei is particularly committed to investing in the AI computing industry in Europe, enabling enterprises and individual developers to leverage the Ascend AI series products for technological and business innovation. For example, Huawei will work with several partners to improve regulations and standards on AI ethics or help to boost AI research, among them the European AI Alliance and European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the Big Data Value Association (BDVA).

Furthermore, Huawei will develop joint solutions with ISV partners. The OpenLabs in Munich and Paris are AI capability centres that support ISV partners in hardware, development and porting, and joint marketing. Continuing to focus on enabling developers, Huawei will organise offline technological salons and developer contests, and provide technological support based on the Ascend Developer Community.

AI requires solutions to be all-scenario native

Besides the four layers mentioned above, our portfolio will also include AI acceleration cards, AI servers, AI appliances and many other products. We believe that, in order to drive AI adoption and truly realise AI everywhere, solutions must be “all-scenario”-native. That is why we also provide different AI deployment scenarios, including public and private clouds, edge computing, industrial IoT devices as well as consumer devices.

At Huawei, we work every day on turning AI into a practical reality, making it inclusive and available for all. Huawei is committed to working closely with our customers, partners, and academia to grow together, promote pervasive AI, and ultimately build a fully connected, intelligent world. With Huawei’s all-scenario native, full-stack AI portfolio, we are ready to provide AI support to every person, home and organisation and together drive AI to new horizons.

Mike BAI is president of Strategy Marketing, Western Europe for Huawei Technologies

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